Communication is far greater than the spoken word. For many parents in our community just the slightest change in facial expression can signify a choice, an emotion, a like or dislike.
Being classed as non-verbal doesn’t mean that a person cannot make verbalisations or sounds and sometimes the odd word or two. It’s quite a generic term covering a wide variety of possibilities.
When your child cannot tell you directly what it is that they want to express. You get creative. You look for signs, and indicators which can slim down the options. For us, it’s Violets eye gaze. She utilises this amazingly.
Violet at five years old is classed as non-verbal.
Violet can say a few words, not often and very sporadically. Violet does however have a lot to say, she uses her voice beautifully and sounds like she is singing. Violet uses her squeals, chatter and sighs to emphasis choices and emotions.
Over the last couple of years, we have experienced regressions with speech and communication as a whole. These have been absolutely heart-breaking, to reach hard won milestones and for them to be cruelly snatched away. Sadly, for us this is an ongoing battle due to a rare epilepsy syndrome.
However, Violet continues to surprise and amaze us. A great many people assume that when an individual cannot speak, that they do not understand. This is of course absolute rubbish. Speech and cognitive ability are completely separate entities.
Unlocking an effective communication method is the key to everything.
To mutual understanding from which you can continue to build a vocabulary together. It won’t be conventional and sometimes will be hard to explain to others but if it works, it works!
There is a huge desire as parents to recognise what it is, our child is requesting or telling us. It physically hurts to see your child in pain when you have no idea what is wrong because they cannot tell you.
To see the frustration in their eyes as they try over and over again with the limited gestures, they have available in their arsenal, for you not to grasp their meaning.
Intuition plays a massive part in the successes.
Often Violet has been incredibly clever in her approach and attempts to tell us what it is she wants to say. Pointing her gaze to certain objects, images or foods. It is often hit and miss until you have a lightbulb moment and it just clicks.
Whatever means used, communication opens a world of opportunity and independence. We use a range of methods, some work better than others. Everyone is different, each of our needs are unique, there is no approach that suits all.
Progress is often slow, frustrating for everyone involved and can be very emotive. But it is worth it all. To see the smiles, the proud face, the joy of being understood.